The Spanish coach´s relationship with co-owners George Gillett and Tom Hicks came in for some intense scrutiny around the turn of the year as concerns over the size of the available transfer budget seemingly caused a rift.
Hicks later admitted that the Americans had held talks with former Germany manager Jurgen Klinsmann - a fact which further destabilised Benitez´s position and led to fan protests in defence of the manager.
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